The center of my First Friday experience is almost always the 100 block of South Gay Street. The Emporium alone offers enough art of interest to fill the evening. This particular First Friday was like the usual 100 block experience on steroids. From the fire eaters to the acrobatics, artists in action, gallery openings and music at every turn, it was almost overwhelming.
The first point of interest walking from uptown across Summit was the fact that a bluegrass band played in the park. That’s the Country Music Park. Perfectly fitting. I still miss the Treble Clef sculpture, but it showed the park’s roots off beautifully. A small crowd stood and listening, but mostly people smiled and enjoyed the music as they passed.
Fashion models circulated on the sidewalks posing for pictures and inviting passersby to an event they were promoting. A woman sold feather earrings from a small cart and attracted quite a crowd. Artists lined the western edge of the street. Cynthia Markert, Brian Pittman and others worked even as they talked to passersby.
Music was everywhere. I listened to a guy in Nouveau Classics for a bit and then moved to 11 Cafe where I enjoyed a sample of a new dish they are offering and listened to a trio perform. It seemed to me every song was pretty adult themed, but they were interesting if nothing else. On the western side of the street there was a DJ in one of the smaller galleries and Steph Mahon played outside Urbhana. It was pretty much a street party.
I spent most of my gallery time in the Emporium and in the UT Downtown Art Gallery. The art openings here are always fun. Generally multiple artists are presented and the space is so big that there’s quite a bit to see. The art presented this month ranged from the object in the middle of the floor that looked a bit like train tracks to a very life-like sculpture of a woman’s body. Specifically, her torso, which I believe was the title of the work. Why are so many women missing their heads in art today? Look at the cover of books in the book store. It’s strange. Still, the sculpture is a beautiful work and I’d encourage you to go see it.
Oils and acrylics were also represented and I’ve got a couple of my favorites pictured here. They both look virtually like photographs. In the first, the woman reclining in a window, the viewer is drawn completely into her enchanting world. She’s in a wonderfully exotic place and she enjoys it – but from a distance. In the painting of the line workers, entitled “Between Heaven and Earth” the viewer isn’t there, but looks from a distance at this brave person suspended between heaven and earth, but also one wrong move from leaving one for the other.
As is often the case, the UT Downtown Gallery offered very interesting works. A whimsical monster made of recyclable materials was fun. The terracotta installation on the floor was certainly interesting. The work that caught my attention, however, was a sculpture I immediately took to be a particular woman. Cindy Billingsly’s “Shell of Self,” hit me as a powerful work. What do you think?
I spent my last few minutes in the park where I’d started. The bluegrass had been replaced by a drum circle. Fire acrobatics, ribbon twirling and hooping happened on the periphery of the circle and throughout the park. A good crowed watched as a woman performed an interpretive dance inside the circle of drums. I always enjoy the intoxicating repetitions and subtle alterations of a good drum circle. I wondered if this might be a good spot for future drum circles instead of Krutch Park where they’ve traditionally congregated.
For many people the night wasn’t over. Valley parking, which is always offered by Shuck, was doing a brisk business. More people were arriving to eat, drink coffee and enjoy the evening. It was a great night to be alive and in the city and the 100 Block was one of the very best places to relish what the city has to offer.